The Southern Gaming Summit: More than Mississippi By Nick Sortal, CDC Gaming Reports March 7, 2018 at 7:30 am The gambling landscape has grown exponentially across the United States in the past 25 years, and that’s especially true in the South. In 1992, Mississippi became only the third state in the nation to offer gambling. Since then, competition has sprung up from all sides, like kudzu, and many patrons who once needed a day’s drive to reach a gambling establishment now have options an hour away. Or less. And while that growth has brought more competitors, it also has created a shared interest: How to best offer gaming in the South. That’s pretty much the thread behind the revamped Southern Gaming Summit, set for May 2-3 at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. “We really have a vision that’s more than Mississippi and the Gulf Coast,” said Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, who is managing the gathering. “We think (the SGS) could be a real serious Southeast event and encompass Florida, the Midwest and beyond.” Gros is returning to SGS this year, 25 years after helping to start the original Southern Gaming Summit. Casino Connection International, the parent company of Global Gaming Business magazine, is deploying its full forces to put on the show. “You always had to come to the Southern Gaming Summit,” Gros said. “You met a lot of great executives, and it was always a lot of fun.” Discussion topics include the future of gaming in Georgia, sports betting, skill-based games, using big data to increase revenues and loyalty, and the Presidents’ Forum roundtable, which will feature several Southern gaming leaders. Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming and Hospitality Association, adds, “Our goal this year is trying not to highlight our state so much, but the whole Southeast.” The Southern Gaming Summit is owned by the Mississippi Gaming & Hospitality Association, the organization that represents 28 casino resorts in Mississippi. “Gambling is now a competitive business now. Every state’s got it,” he said. “We want to market to those in the industry and have an opportunity for networking.” American Gaming Association president Geoff Freeman, who referred to Mississippi as a “shining star in our industry” during a “Get to Know Gaming” tour in 2016, will give the opening address. He also commented at the time on the challenges the area has overcome, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Gregory also points to Phyliss Anderson, the tribal chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, as another highlight. Chief Anderson, fluent in the Choctaw language, has more than 30 years of experience with tribal government management. She is known for her strong commitment to financial responsibility; operating an accountable and transparent government; and building the quality of life on the reservation. “Indian gaming is a huge, huge industry now, and we want them to be a part of it,” Gregory said. Global Gaming Women, which supports the development and success of women in the international gaming industry, is hosting the keynote luncheon. Gregory, a former executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, also points out the summit’s final event: a ceremony and reception celebrating the launch of the new Mississippi Gaming Hall of Fame. Gregory said the hall of fame will be similar to the AGA Hall of Fame. Inductees will be announced later. A golf tournament and awards ceremony will be held beginning at 8:30 a.m. on May 2 at the Grand Bear Golf Course in Saucier, followed by the welcome reception at the Golden Nugget’s pool area. For more information on SGS, visit sgsummit.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.